A week or so ago, I did an interview of Ben Taylor who’s an assistant Sports Information Director at the University of Illinois. He is responsible for coordinating publicity for the U of I baseball team. The resulting article is posted at the Illinois Baseball Report.
I correspond with Ben fairly regularly especially during the college baseball season and we have a pretty good relationship. So I threw him this slightly hard ball question.
IBR: As SID for college athletics, you act as a public relations guy for the team. Is there a fine line between providing as much information as possible about the baseball program to the public yet at the same time keeping the program in a good light? For example, we don’t hear too much about injuries and the like in official press releases. Is that University AD policy?
BT: Yes, there definitely is a fine line. Fans have become much more adept at sniffing out spin in the last decade, so most of them can tell when they aren’t being given the whole story. But as the official spokesperson for the athletic department, our office doesn’t release much in the way of injury updates unless it’s of the season-ending variety. Even then, it’s often up to the head coach because it can be construed as a competitive advantage for opponents. We realize that it is our job to portray the program and the university in the best possible light, so we try to focus on the positive aspects rather than injuries, suspensions, etc., but we also realize that in order to have credibility with our constituents (i.e., fans) we sometimes have to provide the less positive side of things.
All things considered, I like how Ben handled the question. He at least recognized that folks out are becoming more media savvy and recognizing “spin” when they see it.
You can read the whole interview at IBR.